Friday, November 23, 2018

Is 2019's "The Lion King" Manipulative?

Written by Shiggins

Roar for me!

It's a worry that's gone on through the ages, isn't it? Do we live in a bubble? Are we aware of the truth? Should we be aware? Can we handle the truth of our own place in this world, and how much of our own reality should be questioned, brought to the light so we can confirm it for ourselves and change as people! And, as with every philosophical question, that eventually brings me to Disney.

That roar didn't sound like Donald Glover to me!
Before we begin, let's take a look at what Disney are currently doing. As you've no doubt noticed, the massive company Infinity Gauntlet of movies recently began a trend of remaking their iconic animated movies into live-action extravaganzas every year. So far, these movies have turned a massive profit and a usually impressive reception from audiences and critics. In the past four years, we've had Maleficent (which is awful), Cinderella (meh), the Jungle Book (brilliant), 2 Alice in Wonderland movies (sigh) and Beauty and the Beast (another meh). In 2019, we are going to be gifted with three of them; Dumbo, Aladdin and the Lion King, the final of which released its first teaser trailer this week.

The Lion King, to put it as simply as possible, is one of the greatest movies that Disney have ever created. And considering their history, that is damn impressive. Based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet, with some clear inspiration from Greek legends and myths, the Lion King tells the story of a young lion cub named Simba whose father is killed by his uncle and forced to flee his home until the day he matures and returns to save the land. I could literally rant about this film for hours, and I probably have in the past. From the characters to the songs to the dialogue to James Earl freaking Jones, everything about this film is memorable. The only scene I remember from 2008's passable comedy Be Kind Rewind? They talk about how great the Lion King is!

He looks really uncomfortable in this version.
So how did I feel about the teaser trailer to the 2019 incarnation? I loved it! Obviously! The "Circle of Life" blasting out after James Earl Jones' Mufasa says the unforgettable "Everything the light touches" quote while we see the landscapes, all of which were made inside a studio even though it looks this amazing?! Breathtaking! Disney have done it again, I said.


That's when I paused myself. And I remembered that I've been here before. We all have. We've all awed at the epicness of "remember who you are", and we've all booed at the evilness of Scar. We've seen this before! That's why I want to see this movie next year! I love 1994's The Lion King, and this is that but with a fresh coat of CGI-paint and a mostly-new cast playing the roles I enjoyed. And honestly, that feels wrong.

I want to make it clear right now that I am NOT insulting or criticising Jon Favreau, one of my favourite current directors, or any of the cast or crew involved with making this film. From what I can tell, these are perfect choices and I have no doubt they'll do an amazing job, like Favreau did making 2016's The Jungle Book. If I'm targeting anyone, it's the people I'll never even know about, who sit in offices and snort bags of cocaine while blaming others for their problems with women and politics. Okay? Okay.

Weird that they brought back James Earl Jones but not Jeremy Irons.
Anyway, this does bring me back to the problem I've had with every single recent remake, with the exception of one (but we'll get to that). The problem is, simply, they aren't new. Some of the films, like Maleficent and Cinderella, tried adding new elements to the existing stories but it is still inherently the same. The most perfect example is Beauty and the Beast, which has the exact same plot and songs as the classic from 1991, causing a surprisingly negative comparison. Remember the bouncing energy of the "Belle" song in the original? How each character practically jumped about, danced in rhythm, and sang their hearts out? Well, the live-action is a turtle compared to that hare. Each character is stiff, awkward, barely moving and the song feels almost token. As if someone is looking at a list and saying "this is the scene from 1991 where the town sings the 'Belle' song. They're expecting that." And when I think of that person, I think of what's wrong with these movies. I want to be surprised! I want to feel new feelings! When I want to relive the memories I had when watching the original, I WATCH THE ORIGINAL!

Did anyone ever see either version of Pete's Dragon? If you're saying yes, I sincerely hope you watched the new one released in 2016, because it is amazing! And what makes it even more amazing is that it took something that Disney failed once in 1977, and completely reimagined it from the ground up. They looked at the original, wrote down "a boy named Pete has a dragon for a friend that only he can see", and created a brand new, amazing story out of it. By comparison, the two are almost nonidentical and that's what makes it work. Whether you liked the film or not, although I personally thought it was great, at least it gave us something completely new. And it didn't need to use our nostalgia to win us over to it.

Definitely no trailer-shot-by-shot comparison here.
And that's the keyword here; Nostalgia. And it feels weaponised against me, more than it used to. So when I watched that trailer, and then rewatched it later, I felt manipulated. That's the sad truth. I felt like they knew what I liked, and figured I was stupid enough to go see it in the cinema. And you want to know what the saddest part is? 

I'm still going to go see it.

Yeah, I'm not acting smug with this article. I'm telling the truth. I know I'm being manipulated, and this isn't the first time a movie has done that. Even this year, I went to see Sony's Venom. Did I know it was going to suck? Well, here's my review of it. So why did I see it? Because all they had to do was show me my beloved Venom character with shiny graphics and a great actor speaking the lines, and my nostalgia needed to see it. That's how manipulation works. 

Does this mean I'm going to go in hating The Lion King? Absolutely not. Does it remove the original from existence? *checks my shelves* No, my copy is still there. In fact, I would bet heavily on myself enjoying the film. It has James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa, but this time he's talking to Donald Glover! That's amazing! 

I suppose, contradicting what I said and thought earlier, I'm saying that being manipulated into seeing a film isn't inherently wrong in itself. And these Disney remakes aren't exactly "evil" creations that are destroying the integrity of movies or anything as dramatic as that. I wish it didn't happen so much though, and so blatantly too!

In the end, I guess I'm just wishing there were less remakes and more originals being worked on. I could talk about this with almost any movie studio (did you know they're making another Robocop? Another Flash Gordon? Police Academy? Red Sonja? SHREK?!) but Disney is close to me personally and that's why I've chosen them specifically. 

What about you? What are your thoughts on remakes? Comment below! Thanks for reading!

They're going to rule the world, aren't they? It's clear.
Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on or go to his tumblr page


  1. I won't deny that when I saw the trailer my first thought was Oh great another remake from Disney. Yeah I cannot deny I do love the original Lion king but for me this is like all the other Disney remakes. I may end up seeing them at some point but watching the originals is just easier.

    Yeah the playing on nostalgia is very obvious here, the instant I heard John Williams and James Earl Jones I was downright convinced that they were so desperate to get people to see this that they decided to cut dialogue from the original. Then again this may not be a bad remake though I'm not getting my hopes up I just hope this does not make me walk away in anger at the butchering of beloved characters like Maleficent did. The bastards ruined the Three Fairies and Maleficent.

    Yes Mickey Donald and Goofy are planning to rule us all as a triad. Fear the might of the Disney Empire and the inevitable Death Star they shall drag from out of the Disney vaults.

    1. Sorry for the late reply.

      You're like me, my friend. It's nostalgia that's targeting me, and I know I can't stop it. I need to see this. And honestly, the visuals are clearly going to be so amazing that it will be a treat for the eyes so I don't need to be too upset. I just won't give the film too much credit in terms of writing, since most of the dialogue will be from the original.

      I've already accepted that Mickey has built a Death Star-themed Iron-Man costume for himself that he will use to destroy the world. I'm not even going to fight it.

  2. The remakes are visually impressive but Disney's remakes...well to be fair remakes in general tend to fail cause they miss the point of the original, didn't try to touch on the actual source material and what the message is, and for me in cases like jungle book and maleficent miss the mark completely. It's fine to make them have a different identity but with maleficent you miss the mark cause it tries to be wicked without understanding that the character whether inherently or by choice is supposed to be the mistress of all evil.

    Jungle book just felt like it didn't know to be original, like the Disney animated movie, or the actual story from the original book and by trying to mix all 3 you pretty much piss all over the authors intent with the original book in what made mowglis choices in each different version stand out and why he goes to the man village. The sequel animated jungle book by Disney while not the worst did touch up on mowglis leaving the village just not for the same and tried to tackle it in similar but different outcome to avoid being as dark as the original book. For me a lot about the remake to the jungle book made much sense in what they were doing.

    The coming remakes will be average but nothing bad to take your kids to watch but they won't leave impact or be as timeless cause the originals they're based on challenged story telling in a unique way. This is just playing it safe in the same way the boruto anime and manga are. Retreating the same steps and not really tackling new grounds to challenge how stories should be told.

    Remakes can be good especially since we have so many incarnations of dc and marvel heroes and villains. It's just a matter of how you're telling the story and who are you having this focus around and what theme you're tackling with it. It's a tricky tight rope but Disney's remakes already have a formula in how they are gonn a do it where they will feel average to guys like me where again nothing awful for kids but nothing to really challenge their views given how easily offended everyone gets these days when the idea of a good fictional story and even comedy should challenge you and your kids to think and ponder on stuff and not just give simple answers.

    I think that's all I got to say on that.

    1. Sorry for the late reply!

      Yeah, there's a lot to say on these films but it's clear from the get-go that these are purely made for nostalgia and lack of innovation. Hopefully, more viewers will check out their original works, like Wreck-It Ralph 2 or Toy Story 4. My bet is on Lion King making over a billion though. Jungle Book nearly did that, and Lion King is (arguably) one of the best Disney films EVER!

      The big difference between the comic-book movies and these ones are, I'd say, the use of story and character. For example, Marvel made another Spider-Man movie but they used the same characters in completely new settings and stories. It's not like the MCU made Spiderman fight Green Goblin again and then cause him to get stabbed by his own glider so Harry vows revenge. But in the Disney remakes, they are essentially stabbing GG with the glider again.

      Thanks for reading!